Several large explosions on Wednesday rocked the northeast Syrian town of Ras al Ain, on the border across from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar, a CNN Turk reporter said, adding that the sound of planes could he heard above.
He said smoke could be seen rising from buildings in Ras al Ain. As the blasts occurred, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had launched its planned military operation in northeast Syria.
TURKEY LAUNCHES OPERATION INTO NORTHEAST SYRIA
Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies have launched their military operation into northeastern Syria, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, adding that the offensive aimed to eliminate a “terror corridor” along the southern Turkish border.
Erdogan said the offensive, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring”, would aim to eliminate threats from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and the Islamic State militants, and enable the return of Syrian refugees in Turkey after the formation of a “safe zone” in the area.
“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” Erdogan said on Twitter. “We will preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists.”
Turkey views Kurdish YPG fighters in northeast Syria as terrorists because of their ties to militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey, an influx of non-Kurdish Syrians would help it secure a buffer against its main security threat.
Erdogan earlier told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that the operation would help peace and stability in Syria.
But Syria said it was determined to confront any Turkish aggression by all legitimate means.
KURDISH-LED SDF: TURKISH WARPLANES STRIKE NORTHEAST, “HUGE PANIC”
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Turkish warplanes struck its region in the northeast, sparking “huge panic among people” on Wednesday.
“Turkish warplanes have started to carry out air strikes on civilian areas,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Twitter.
Syrian state media and a Kurdish official separately said bombing hit the town of Ras al-Ain in the northeast along the Turkish border.
TURKISH LAUNCHES SYRIA AIR STRIKES, TO BE SUPPORTED BY ARTILLERY: SECURITY SOURCE
The Turkish military operation into Syria has been launched with air strikes and will be supported by artillery and howitzer fire, a Turkish security source told Reuters on Wednesday.
He was speaking after explosions rocked the town of Ras al Ain in northeast Syria, on the border with Turkey, and President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had launched its offensive.
SDF URGES “NO FLY ZONE” TO STOP TURKISH ATTACKS IN NORTHEAST SYRIA
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) appealed to the United States and its allies on Wednesday for a “no fly zone” to protect it from Turkish attacks in northeast Syria.
“The SDF showed good faith to the security mechanism agreement between the U.S. and Turkey. This left our people defenceless,” it said.
TURKISH HOWITZERS HIT KURDISH MILITIA BASES: SECURITY SOURCE
Turkish howitzers started hitting bases and ammunition depots of the Kurdish YPG militia on Wednesday after Turkey launched an offensive targeting the group in northeast Syria, a Turkish security source said.
The source said the howitzer strikes, which also targeted YPG gun and sniper positions, were aimed at sites far from residential areas.
TURKEY SUMMONS US ENVOY FOR SYRIA OFFENSIVE BRIEFING
The US ambassador to Ankara was summoned to the foreign ministry on Wednesday to be briefed on Turkey’s military offensive into northeastern Syria, broadcaster CNN Turk said, minutes after Ankara launched its cross-border operation.
Turkey had been poised to advance into northeast Syria since US troops began vacating the area in an abrupt policy shift by President Donald Trump. Earlier, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies had started the offensive.
RUSSIA WON’T GET INVOLVED IN CONFLICT BETWEEN TURKEY AND SYRIA: RIA CITES LAWMAKER
Russia will not get involved in the conflict between Turkey and Syria after Ankara launched an operation in Syria’s northeast, the RIA news agency cited a senior Russian lawmaker as saying on Wednesday.
Russia’s military is in Syria for different reasons, RIA quoted Vladimir Dzhabarov, the first deputy chair of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of parliament, as saying.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan by phone on Wednesday to avoid any steps in Syria that could damage its peace process, the Kremlin said, as Turkey started its operation in northeastern Syria.
The Turkish military offensive in Syria can be construed as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty, Dzhabarov was quoted as saying.
Amid deepening humanitarian concerns, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all parties in northeast Syria to exercise maximum restraint and protect civilians.